[USS Vanguard] RPG: Rebirth

Commodore Dominic Santos
Starbase Brigadoon
Two years following last Carillon posts

Dominic Santos leaned against the viewport and looked out at the stars.
He admired the nebula in the distance and watched as a starship--he
recognized the USS Hornet from the three elongated nacelles on her
belly--went to warp and disappeared from sight of Starbase Brigadoon.

Santos clasped his cigar between his index and middle fingers and
brought it to his lips, inhaling deeply, with satisfaction.

As he exhaled a stream of smoke, the ventilation system in his quarters
hummed into life, quietly and efficiently going about the business of
ridding his quarters of smoke.

"Hey."

Santos turned and smiled at the silhouette standing in the doorway.
Charmaine walked toward Nick, dressed in one of his Starfleet Archery
shirts, the one that read "Starfleet Archers Always Hit Their Mark."

As if for the first time, Santos regarded her--the chestnut hair
spilling down to her shoulders, her lively brown eyes, the perfectly
formed nose and lips accentuating her pale complexion. She had a
pleasantly rounded face and a lithesome gait that had attracted Santos
when he first met her.

"Good morning," Santos said, turning back to look at the stars.

Charmaine Red Lilly walked up to Santos and put her arms around his
middle, resting her chin on his shoulder, and studied the view
alongside him. She was nearly as tall as he was.

"Today's the day," she said.

Santos said nothing but took another puff from his cigar.

Charmaine coughed softly and, laughing, asked Santos, "Isn't it a
little early in the morning to smoke cigars?" She ran the back of her
hand through his beard. Santos found the gesture touching, but finding
more gray in his beard every day, he was a little self-conscious about
it, too.

"Today's the day," Santos echoed. "Do you have everything?"

"Don't worry," she said. "Dorian came by last night while you were out
with Sam and Cynan and arranged for everything."

"That was good of her," Santos said, not knowing what else to say.

"She's very good at what she does," Charmaine replied.

"Do you have time for breakfast?" Santos asked.

"Come on," Charmaine grinned, leading him by the hand toward the
refresher.

Afterward, Santos stood by the doors to his quarters and waited for
Charmaine. She emerged a few minutes later, adjusting her uniform.

Captain Charmaine Red Lilly adjusted her collar and checked the pips.

"Are they straight?" she asked Nick.

"You look fine," he said. "Better than fine, actually." He grinned.

"Flatterer," she said, smiling. When she walked under the dim lighting
in his quarters, Santos noticed her eyes were wet. She swiped at her
face as if she were tired.

"Well, Captain, allow me the pleasure of escorting you to your ship,"
Santos said formally.

"I would be most honored, Commodore," Charmaine said.

Santos and Charmaine arrived in Shuttlebay One, where they were met by
Capt. Red Lilly's first officer, Dorian Landis, a capable officer who,
Santos observed, rarely smiled in all their dealings. Charmaine and
Dorian had been junior officers together aboard their first posting,
the deep-space vessel USS Tangiers.

"Good morning, Captain," Landis said. She looked at Nick Santos without
so much as a nod.

"Dorian," Charmaine smiled.

"We've been given clearance to depart," Landis said.

"Can you give me a minute, Dorian?" Charmaine asked.

Landis nodded and ducked back inside the Runabout Golata, sparing
Santos one last disapproving look.

Charmaine threw her arms around Santos' neck, and he returned the
embrace.

"Bye, Nick," she whispered in his ear. "Thanks for everything. I'll
never forget these past months."

She looked in his eyes. "You made me a better officer. More than that,
you made me a better woman."

"You're welcome," Santos said, not really wishing to prolong the
goodbyes. "And thank you."

She squeezed his hand and grinned tightly. She turned toward the
shuttle and ducked into the co-pilot's seat.

She looked at Santos as the Runabout rose into the air and turned
toward the open bay doors.

Santos watched as Charmaine's shuttle departed, ferrying her toward
their starship, Xanadu, one of the new transwarp vessels tasked with
testing the limits of transwarp technology and exploring previously
uncharted regions of space.

Charmaine's destination was the Theta Quadrant, approximately 80,000
light years from the outermost point of charted Federation territory.

Her crew's mission--to explore and chart the Theta Quadrant--was slated
to last 21 standard years.

______________________

Santos took a seat across from Desdemona. She continued to stare at her
PADD. Santos knew from their many breakfasts together that Des was
reading the Intergalactic Herald Tribune.

Des picked up the white ceramic mug on the table and sipped her
beverage. From the strong aroma, Santos knew it was one of her many
favorite coffees.

"Charmaine left for the Xanadu?" Des said by way of greeting.

"She left this morning," Santos said.

The Klingon waiter bustled over and offered Santos a menu for the Taste
E. Targ, Brigadoon's renowned Klingon barbecue restaurant.

Santos shook his head, having memorized every item on the menu. The
menu never changed.

"Let me get two eggs over easy, two strips of bacon (not too crispy),
hash browns, grits with butter, and an orange juice, no pulp."

The waiter nodded and left with Santos' order.

Des finally looked up, put aside the PADD and regarded Santos. "Eating
too much isn't going to make you feel better, you know."

"Who says I need to feel better?" Santos asked.

Des shook her head and gave Santos a wry smile. "Same old Nick."

She sipped her coffee and stared long and hard at Santos. Santos stared
back.

"What are you doing, Nick?" she asked.

"I'm having breakfast," he said, only half-joking.

"You know what I'm talking about. What are you doing on this station?
It didn't work out so well the first time, and you have no reason to
believe it's going to work out any better this time."

The waiter brought Santos' orange juice and left again. Santos picked
up the tumbler and sipped his orange juice. It was fresh.

"If you're suggesting what I think you're suggesting--and I know you
are--the Vanguard already has a very capable commander. And I don't
intend to steal any of Zena's thunder. The Vanguard is her ship now.
Sometimes, it's best to know when to move on."

Desdemona merely smiled at Santos.

She gazed out the windows at the stars and said, ?Speak of the devil.?
She turned back to her coffee serenely and sipped from her mug.

Santos followed her gaze and watched a starship appear out of warp in
the distance. Of course, the ship's commander and helm officer followed
protocol, and the starship was a vast distance from the starbase when
it appeared. It was impossible to distinguish the starship with the
naked eye. Santos was impressed.

?How did you...?? Santos asked Desdemona. ?Never mind. Don't tell me.?

?Just a sense,? she smiled.

Santos and Desdemona studied the ship as it cruised toward a docking
berth at Starbase Brigadoon.

It was the Vanguard. And her crew had once again arrived at its home
port.

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